Grow avocado trees, reap the benefits
The climate in Kerala suits avocado (butter fruit) trees, as they grow well here and give good yields. The fruit, that appears and tastes like butter, reached in Sri Lanka from South America around a century ago, and then came to Tamil Nadu.
The plants were first cultivated in Kerala at the Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal, Wayanad. Suitable to be grown in tropical climate, they can be cultivated in hilly areas of the state. However, they are yet to get popular among farmers here.
The evergreen avocado tree grows upto 20 m height. They have horizontal branches and the roots don't go far deep. The leaves are big and rough. Flowers are seen at the end of branches. The fruit is fleshy and contains one big seed. The fruits are five to 20 cm long, as there are many varieties. The outer part will be light green or pink in colour while the inner part, yellow or yellowish green.
Usually, avocado trees are grown by sowing the seeds. It will take 50 to 100 days for the seeds to sprout. Grafting and budding can be tried. Fertile soil without excess water is most suitable. There should be a distance of six to 12 m between two seedlings. The holes for planting the seedlings should be 1 metre deep.
The plants should be watered well in the first year. Apply manure systematically for good yields. Plants grown from seeds will give fruits within five years. In South India, avocado trees bloom in November-December months and fruits ripen by July or August.
Harvest should be on the basis of the time the fruits took to ripen and their size. Ripe fruits will be soft. One tree will give 100 to 500 fruits.
The fruits can be added in salads and ice cream. Fat-rich and energy-boosting, avocado fruit contains vitamins, proteins, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The sugar content is below one per cent, so diabetic patients can have them.
An oil can be extracted from the seeds of these fruits. Colourless and odorless, that oil has the same qualities of olive oil. It is used for manufacturing beauty products.